Chicopee woman charges in ATV wreck that seriously injured girl
PITTSFIELD -- A 31-year-old Chicopee woman is facing criminal charges for allegedly allowing a then 15-year-old relative from Springfield to drive an all-terrain vehicle, ending in a crash in which both were hurt, the teen severely.
Kimberly A. Philpott of Bostwick Lane is scheduled to be arraigned on six charges on March 11 in Central Berkshire District Court. She is facing a maximum of 21Ž2 years in jail or a $5,000 fine, or both, if convicted.
According to an state Environmental Police probable cause report, on Nov. 18, while at a family get-together in Peru, Philpott took the teen for a ride on an adult-sized Can-Am Outlander ATV.
The girl had been told not to ride the vehicle by other family members, according to the report. While riding, Philpott’s glasses broke and she allowed the teen to drive. They crashed near the intersection of Causeway Street and South Road Extension and the vehicle landed on top of them. Philpott was not wearing a helmet and the teen’s helmet flew off during the accident.
The Peru Police and Fire departments arrived on scene as did the state Environmental Police.
The pair was rushed to Berkshire Medical Center by County Ambulance. The teen was later airlifted to Baystate Medical Center in Springfield for a fractured skull, brain swelling, seven fractured ribs and collapsed lungs. She had to be put into an induced coma, according to the report. The current condition of the now-16-year-old was not available.
Philpott suffered a lacerated liver, a broken wrist and a severe cut to her calf.
According to the report, no drinking was involved.
Philpott allegedly told the police that "looking back" she should have left the vehicle and walked back with the girl. "I messed up," she told an investigating officer.
The case went forward after a show-cause hearing on Thursday determined there was enough evidence to charge Philpott.
She was not arrested and is being summonsed in to court.
The most serious charge Philpott is facing is negligent and reckless operation of an ATV causing serious injury, a misdemeanor. The other charges include allowing a person under 18 to improperly operate an ATV and allowing a person under 18 to operate an ATV without a safety course, among others.
Many of these charges are part of Sean’s Law, which strengthened existing statutes on ATV use in the state and went into effect on Oct. 1, 2010, becoming the toughest such law in the county.
The law was named after 8-year-old Sean Kearney of Manomet who was killed in 2006 after an ATV he was riding on with a school friend overturned on him.
Among the law’s regulations are mandatory education and training classes for any rider 18 or younger. No child under 14 is allowed to ride an ATV.
According to Captain Robert Forsythe, the inland deputy bureau chief for the state Environmental Police, there is a two-part process teens must go through to be able to ride. They must first complete an online course and then attend a class on the law provided by the Environmental Police. After receiving certification they must carry it with them when riding.
Forsythe said they have publicized Sean’s Law, but sometimes are told by violators that they were unaware of the statutes.
"We always get that excuse with any of the laws," he said.
The captain said the point of the law is to prevent serious injuries to younger riders.
"Unfortunately, it takes a tragedy to get the laws changed," he said.
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